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Tutorial: Pig Pen/Wooden Animal Closure

Farms are a mainstay in tabletop gaming.  They add a variety of terrain for a countryside battle and offer a remote location for more intimate skirmish settings.  Even today, you can still drive through parts of the country and see farms that look similar to how they must have been over a hundred yeas ago.  Adding a tractor brings it to the 20th century and the present.  Adding rustic wagons can make the landscape appear hundreds of years old.  Farms definitely give us tabletop gamers some versatile scenery for our collections.

Today, I will offer some suggestions on how to paint our Pig Pen/Wooden Animal Closure.  I sculpted this to reflect something that could have been used in the middle ages as well as something that may show up in a local petting zoo.  I also chose paints that are easy to find at any hobby shop as well as being less expensive than your traditional acrylic paints for miniature painting.  Normally, my paint of choice comes from Reaper Miniatures. I like the dropper bottles and the colours that Ann has developed for the company.  However, I tend to use Americana acrylic paints for scenery since I use a lot more paint and sometimes, a thicker paint can be useful while painting terrain.

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This is what you will receive when you order the Pig Pen: a base representing the yard, the wooden enclosure, a wooden roof and 4 fence sections.  All of these items are made out of resin and will require a bit of clean up before you start painting.  Due to the nature of the casting process, the fences will need the most clean up.  However, it only takes a few minutes with either a hobby knife or a file to get rid of the flash.

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After I finished cleaning the resin pieces, I gave it a primer coat using Games Workshop black primer.  Any primer will work, the GW paint is just what I had around at the time.  Make sure that you get a consistent layer of primer on both sides of each piece except for the yard and the wooden enclosure – these pieces will only be seen from the top.

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I painted both sides of the fence with Burn Umber.  I left some black showing in the corners and on the underside of the railings to add some shadowing and interest to the fence.

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I used Milk Chocolate as my main colour for the wood.  I use a dry brush technique to apply the colour except that I left more of the colour on the brush than you normally would.  The reason for this is that I wanted more coverage of the fence than normal dry brushing would achieve but I also wanted to leave areas where the black and burnt umber colours still showed through.

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I used Fawn as my highlight colour and applied it in a traditional dry brush manner.  I applied it to the top edges of the wood and very lightly over the vertical posts to just catch the raised areas.

For those of you who may not be too familiar with dry brushing, it is a technique to add quick highlights to your model.  What you do is add paint to your brush and then wipe away most of the paint onto a paper towel.  What you should be left with is a brush that only has a little bit of paint on it.  When you brush it across a model, the only places that will get painted are the edges and raised bits of the model as these offer enough resistance to the brush to attract the little paint that is left on the brush.  As you practice, you will learn how to judge how much paint to leave on your brush to get different effects.  I would suggest searching YouTube for some of the great dry brushing tutorials that they offer.

After the fences are finished, I applied the same technique to the roof and the rest of the building.  If you are doing a more modern setting, you may want to paint the building a different colour.  Even if you do, I still suggest painting the wood a wooden colour first and letting some if it show through.  It is an animal pen exposed to the elements – I’m sure that the wood would show through in places.  Unless, of course, you’re Martha Stewart!

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Next, I started on the ground areas around the building and the yard. I wanted the dirt to be a darker colour than the wood and lend itself to a shiny, muddy appearance.  I chose to go with Bittersweet Chocolate as my first colour.  I painted all the dirt areas with an even coat and didn’t leave any of the black primer showing.

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I then did a heavy dry brush of Burt Umber as my main colour, leaving the recessed areas showing the Bittersweet Chocolate.

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Finally, I did a light dry brush of Raw Sienna on the highest points and edges of the resin pieces to add more depth to the finished paint job.

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With all the painting finished, I used a gel superglue to attach the fences to the base and placed the building on the designated spot in the yard.  I’m not going to glue the building in place as I may have other uses for the yard besides as an animal pen.  It can be used as a horse stall or as a human holding area in a Planet of the Apes scenario.

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The only thing I have left to do is add some static grass along the outside of the fence and give it 2 sealer coats to help with durability.  When sealing a piece of terrain, I tend to do two coats.  The first coat is a gloss sealer to give it durability.  The second coat is a matte sealer to take away any unwanted shine.

The reason I use a gloss sealer first is that it is more durable than a matte sealer.  Gloss sealer is like a hard candy shell.  It has a smooth surface which reflects light and is hard to erode.  Matt sealer actually has a rough finish.  This finish appears dull because light is refracted in a number of different directions.

So, if you are going to be handling your painting projects a lot, I suggest giving it some “armor” with a gloss finish first.

I hope that this tutorial helps you paint your own pig pen or any other building you are working on.  My colour choice are my choice, not a rule on what you need to use.  Look up pictures on the internet to find colour combinations that you like and go to hobby stores and place bottles of paint together in order to see how they work together.  There are no right or wrongs in art and, as they say, beauty is in the eye  of the beholder.

The most important thing I can suggest is have fun and take pride in whatever you create.

Peace out, eh?